Review: The Tide by Clare Helen Walsh and Ashling Lindsay
Sometimes Grandad forgets things. Like what the sandwiches are for or who he is with. His memories are like the tide. Sometimes they are far away and distant. Other times they come crashing in.
Grandad still loves everybody just as much. And when the tide is in, everyone celebrates.
A beautiful and reflective story about observing the changes in a loved one with dementia.
Dementia is an unforgiving condition and there is currently no cure. Watching a loved one change and struggle is equally unforgiving. The suffer’s behaviour might seem perplexing, and correcting someone with dementia when they are certain of a fact is futile. Even for a small child who isn’t in a caring role, this can be frustrating. The Tide acknowledges this, yet also shows a protagonist move from bewilderment and fear into a state of acceptance.
Grandad loves everybody just as much as he always did. His memories just happen to ebb and flow, and he behaves differently at times.
The tone of this story is beautiful. As someone who has seen dementia in the family, I know how frustrating it is when people get too upbeat. The book gently explores what might change and what remains the same, and how the good moments become more precious. It doesn’t suggest that the changes are good, only that the love between everyone concerned remains the same. And that there will be good times.
A gentle colour-pallette is broken up with bright details. These stand out in the pale pictures like the brighter moments in the story. There is a poignant picture where the protagonist stands alone against a blank background. She looks tiny in a double-page spread of nothingness. The text explores her fear the everything about Granddad is going. A later spread shows herself and Granddad dancing in the waves, like an answer to the first spread. The tide will come in again. And then everything will feel brighter for a while.
An outstanding story which not only teaches the reader about dementia but encourages them to empathise with both the sufferer and their loved ones. This is the best picture book about dementia I have seen and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Thanks to Little Tiger UK for my gifted copy of The Tide. Opinions my own.